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Weathering Tough Times: Making the Most of Your Food Dollar
Keeping Your Family First
When food budgets are tight, taking steps to make the most of your food dollar can pay off in multiple ways. You can feed your family well when you plan carefully and save dollars that you might otherwise spend at last minute grocery store trips or take-out meals.
The first step is to plan your shopping trip. Think through foods you'll need over several days and make a list. Arrange your grocery list to match the grocery store arrangement to save shopping time.
Compare grocery stores and find one that is most economically matched to your needs. Remember that non-food items can be a major part of your shopping bill. Such items may be less expensive if bought at other discount stores.
Check food advertisements and compare prices. Be familiar with more than one food shopping center so that you'll have some shopping options. If there are store specials, consider buying an extra supply in reasonable amounts to save money over a period of time.
Develop a standard list of food items that are always used at your home. Each week you can quickly check these items to see if you need to re-stock. When these items go on sale, you can more easily take advantage of the bargain.
Protein-rich foods are important for meeting nutritional needs but they can also be the most costly part of your food budget. To better manage your food costs, remember that an adequate serving of cooked meat, fish or poultry is 2-3 ounces rather than 5-6 ounces or more. Casserole dishes that combine protein sources from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, or eggs with pasta, rice and vegetables are excellent ways to stretch your food dollar. Look for cuts and types of meat that give you the most lean and least waste in bones and other trimmings.
Finally, keeping food costs down doesn't mean that meals need to be dull and boring. Even low cost meals are more attractive when care is taken to make the dinner table look more attractive such as placing a plant or bowl of fruits on the table as a centerpiece. Use foods for eye and taste appeal as well as for nutrition. Include a variety of colors, textures, forms and types of food.
- Dr. Linda Boeckner, Extension Nutrition Specialist, University of Nebraska Panhandle Research & Extension Center
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Photo Credit - USDA